Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Takes Another Hiatus

Hyundai Santa Cruz 1

Hyundai will not be making its Santa Cruz pickup truck, based on the Hyundai Tucson SUV, anytime soon.

According to, Hyundai's lifestyle pickup concept — shown at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit — was supposed to be the Korean manufacturer's entrance into the lucrative and growing pickup market. Now it looks to be taking a pause as the company reassesses the viability of the concept.

During the debut of the Santa Cruz, Hyundai senior executives suggested it could show up on dealer lots for the 2018 model year; they also hinted they hoped for sales upward of 50,000 additional units to Hyundai's annual sales number. Now the entire project looks to be on hold indefinitely, even though Subaru is hinting about returning to the small-truck segment and Volkswagen has gotten more serious, showing off its Honda Ridgeline-like concept the Atlas Tanoak at the 2018 New York International Auto Show.

Whether any automaker can build a better Honda Ridgeline or figure out how to lure more and younger buyers out of their crossovers and mid-size sedans into pickups remains to be seen. We'll have to wait a few more years as manufacturers try to crack this code. photos by Evan Sears


Hyundai Santa Cruz 3

Hyundai Santa Cruz 2 II


There is the kids truck that BAFO was talking about.


Hyundai made a smart marketing move.
They had enough brains knowing they wouldn't have a chance to compete against the 2019 Ford Ranger.

compete against the 2019 Ford Ranger.
Posted by: Ecoboost Rules | Apr 24, 2018

This Hyundai decision is NOT about the Ranger---it's about the dismal Ridgeline sales. The Ranger is a straightforward truck that Ford will not allow to fail. The Hyundai is a lark.

Don't hold your breath waiting on Hyundai's little trucklet

YES! Bring back the Baja!!!

Subaru would be crazy to do this!

Both of their previous entries into this space received lukewarm receptions at best---the Subaru truck concept is great fun, but presently their shop-floor space and resources are better used producing stronger models like the Forester and the Outback.

I would be very interested in a smaller truck. There are no small truck options nowadays. Give me a Ridgeline at 80% of its current size, make it a megacab with a 6' bed, and you d have a great handyman truck.

I have to wonder how much Hyundai's decision is playing off the uncertainty of the TPP? If trade wars escalate with China, TPP may be on again.

I think there is a rich market here. Lots of people looking for a smaller comfortable truck. Even though the Ridgeline is too big, Honda can't build them fast enough to keep them on the lots. Tacoma is the only pickup that spends (barely) fewer days on the lot.

@Mark Williams
Meanwhile Hyundai and from reports Kia are more interested in a a Hilux Fighter.
It will be body on frame and have a 2,200lb payload very different too the Cruz concept. As Mercedes has just started selling it’s X Class in Australia. Hyundai dealers have been crying out for a Hilux Fighter. KIA have said separately they were developing a Pickup

Ridgeline original demand is gone and sales are tanking. They'll move 25k a year here out

This article is a bit dated:

However, I did a current search on and, within a 100-mile radius of my location, average time on dealer lots is between 21-22 days. Maybe it is different in other parts of the country. It would be nice to see some increased inventory (so i can get the color i want) and if they are really tanking, maybe we will see a factory incentive so I can save some $$$, too!

Um.... This article does not jive with others I have read recently which clearly state that it IS coming, though we still have a short wait. It seems internal politics delayed the Santa Cruz more than any effort to determine its viability. Another report suggests it's simply been delayed until 2020.

I would be very interested in a smaller truck. There are no small truck options nowadays. Posted by: Longboat | Apr 24, 2018

I think there is a rich market here. Posted by: Longboat | Apr 24, 2018


You can buy a clean, used S10 or Ranger. Trucks that size are NOT coming back to the US or Canada anytime soon. The reasons have been discussed endlessly on this site.

A smaller Ridgeline might even sell WORSE than the current model without the advantage of utilizing existing Honda components.

@PapaJim -- I've driven some of those S10 and Ranger trucks. I'd like something a little more modern with more utility.

A smaller "Ridgeline" would sell, regardless of who made it (Hyundai?). If Honda made it, i imagine it would, like the Ridgeline, sell as many as they can build.


The auto industry is suffering from too many sedans these days. Honda makes a LOT of sedans. It will be interesting to see their finances for Q1. Ford's report is out today and GM is tomorrow.

Honda cannot afford to build a one-off "smaller" Ridgeline as you put it. The current Ridgeline---which suffers low sales volume because it's too expensive---benefits from its utilization of other Honda components.

Are you suggesting a Ridgeline built from the Civic platform? Can you picture a starting price in $30s? Won't happen anytime soon.

@PapaJim -- no, not the Civic, something more like the HRV or the defunct Element. Imagine the Element as a single cab with a bed. Keep it simple, nothing fancy, turbo4 w/ 5-spd stick, no safety nannies, no infotainment, cloth seats, etc. $25k for FWD, $30k for AWD. 3500lb towing and 1200lb payload. Two or three trims to keep it simple and cheap.

Ridgeline prices are comparable to Colorado if you option them the same. Honda's problem is that their base truck starts out where most other trucks are optioned mid-market, so their entry level is high.

The RTS AWD was a great value before Honda canned it.

Hyundai needs to do some more work on their line of crossovers before they go to trucks. At the very least offer a subcompact crossover competitively priced below Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, and Chevy. I don't know if this is the right truck for Hyundai. To start with Hyundai needs to have a base extend cab truck priced less than Colorado, Ranger, Tacoma, and Frontier and then offer a 10 year or 100k mile warranty. Go ahead and offer a crew cab as well but price it just below the competition. Spend some money on a good advertising campaign. If Hyundai is not willing to do this then forget about a truck.

Second thought maybe Kia should make the truck I suggested. Kia has done a great job with the Kia Soul maybe that team should be put in charge of making a good affordable compact truck and maybe use the hamster theme to advertise the truck. Kia did a great job designing and marketing the Soul. I believe an affordable small truck could do well but it has to have some effective marketing.

Honda's problem is that their base truck starts out where most other trucks are optioned mid-market, so their entry level is high.
Posted by: Longboat | Apr 25, 2018



I've been saying that since the gen-2 Honda came out. Pricing is killing their truck in a market where customers can still get a Nissan Frontier Crewcab in the mid 20s, w/auto, V6 and reasonable comfort.

and then offer a 10 year or 100k mile warranty. Go ahead and offer a crew cab as well but price it just below the competition.
Posted by: Jeff S | Apr 25, 2018

@Jeff S

Will NEVER happen. Base-priced extended cab mid-sizers are heavily oriented towards the commercial market where trucks go to die young.

Pizza, auto parts and parks dept. crews. A very hard life. Super thin profit margins. Why add high warranty costs to the equation?

I keep trying to get it into papajim head the Ridgeline in Base model is still well appointed compared to other trucks. This is not a Honda Fit or Base Civic. You got to think base Odyssey or Pilot.
Frontier was old when 1st Generation Ridgeline was newer and that was leaps ahead of many Full size trucks when introduce.

@Ridgeline 2007

Save yourself the trouble. Midsize truck buyers include a lot of people who want a work truck, not a Mall Crusier. Price is a big deal for them and Honda's gen 2 pickup is too expensive to compete. The sales figures tell the whole story.

@PapaJim -- sales figures tell very little of the story. The Ridgeline isn't like the F150 or 1500 trucks, where you have thousands upon thousands sitting on dealers lots around the country. Honda builds very few of them and they don't sit on dealers lots for long.

Time on dealers lots tells WAY more than sales figures. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, RR and others woukd be dismal failures by using your logic of sales numbers = success.

@papa jim--Why? Because Hyundai has been losing sales. A small affordable truck would add sales to Hyundai and give them a foot in the door to the truck market. If you have been following the car news car sales have been plummeting. Ford is planning on eliminating all cars except for the Mustang and Focus. To save the costs Hyundai should use one of their existing platforms such as the Santa Fe. Another expensive 4 door only platform will not do anything for Hyundai. Hyundai needs to grab the attention of the buying public. Hyundai already offers the warranty why would they offer less of a warranty. Hyundai cannot compete with a full size body on frame truck that would compete directly against Ford, GM, and Ram. Spend money on developing a platform for a truck only. A higher end more expensive truck like the Ridgeline or possibly the proposed VW truck will compete in a smaller pool where the customers are more limited. In case you haven't noticed there are few low cost trucks available and if you have read some of the comments on this site you would see many comments about a basic smaller truck that is more affordably priced. Offer a base model with a plastic floor vinyl seats and air with a radio and then offer another trim with the extras but not so many extras to make it too expensive. Use an existing plant that makes a crossover. Maybe this could be made in the Kia plant in Georgia that makes Sorentos. It might be better that Kia makes this but both have the same ownership. This truck would also compete for fleet sales as well.

And make the small truck have the best mpgs. Gas prices have been going up and if they continue to go up there will be demand for more efficient vehicles. There is nothing wrong with fleet sales if you factor in enough individual sales to make a profit. If Hyundai has to use a uni body front wheel drive based platform to keep the costs down then that would work. If the President is able to restart the Trans Pacific trade agreement as he has recently expressed an interest in then these trucks could be made in Asia. Most of the manufacturers have vehicle plants in Thailand I would say if they could get the costs down to where the base price would start at 16k and would not exceed 24k that this truck would sell well enough to make a profit.

@Ridgeline Owner 2007--The Ridgeline is a good competent truck and Honda can substantiate its existence by producing it in the same plant that produces the Odyssey which both share the same platform and many components. As a stand alone product the Ridgeline would not be feasible but as it is now it is. I don't believe Hyundai and Kia should produce a Ridgeline competitor because the price point would be too high for either and they still do not have the reputation of Honda or Toyota. It appears that VW might go the same direction as Honda with a crew cab 4 wheel drive truck. Might be too much for Hyundai and Kia to compete in this field. If Hyundai and Kia choose not to produce a truck which I can fully understand that decision they both need to add sub compact crossovers to compete with the Honda HRV, Toyota, Ford, GM, and Nissan. I don't think Hyundai and Kia should eliminate most of their cars like FCA and Ford but I believe they need to broaden their range of crossovers are offered. Hyundai sales have plummeted and they have to do something. Kia is doing better than Hyundai but neither is burning up the sales charts. For either doing nothing is not an option which could eventually lead to both leaving the US market. Both have to do something. That is why I suggested a less expensive truck that is priced below the competition. Maybe that might not work but at least explore the option. Some out of the box thinking along with risk taking on a new product needs to be done.

not the REAL Jeff S

@papajim sure plenty of people want a work truck but the Ridgeline in base is not really a work fleet truck. Some independent person can buy it and use it for private work truck carpenter but it's not a fleet truck. I see so many Frontier as pest control or cable installer/repair trucks. Ridgeline has a nicer interior and you just would not see many used for that.
There is an Gen1 Ridgeline near my house since 2006 the guy has a flooring business floor tiles wood flooring fancy bricks he uses it. So not a mall crawler & we use ours as a highway cruiser something that other pickup trucks would beat you up doing long distance road trips.

other pickup trucks would beat you up doing long distance road trips....Posted by: RIDGELINE OWNER 2007 | Apr 27, 2018

Wrong. My Silverado is a joy on the Interstate. Very relaxing and solid.

There is still a need for a more affordable compact pickup. Hyundai and Kia have an opportunity to offer one. If not them then maybe the Chinese.

@papajim you had better read CR 2018 New Cars Best Worst Cars Trucks Suvs Silverado says short comings jittery ride. Tat's a new. What it says about Ridgeline ride and handling more refined than conventional pickups. That is why I got the Generation 1 Ridgeline and will get Gen 2 and every publication and review backs this up.

@papjim this is where the uni-body trucks like Ridgeline, Santa Cruz and VW will out due the traditional Body On Frame trucks.
You read and here stuff like jittery and stiff. They say the Chevy drives big not as agile as some other Full- Sized another reason never considered Full-Size don't need that Towing or hauling capability.

@ RIDGELINE OWNER 2007--You brought up some good points. I have yet to meet a Ridgeline owner that didn't like their Ridgeline. Again I don't think a Ridgeline competitor is a good path for Hyundai or Kia. I do think they could make a competitive small uni body truck based on one of their crossovers. Maybe if Hyundai and Kia start with a smaller low price truck they can get a reputation and expand to a more expensive truck to compete with Ridgeline and some of the other crew cab 4 wheel drive trucks. It took years for Honda to get where they are now and both Hyundai and Kia are starting to get a better reputation but price is still what buyers look for in Hyundai and Kia--both have launched luguary

Hyundai and Kia both have launched their luxury cars but many luxury buyers have not fully excepted them. They still need more time to establish themselves.

@ridgeline 2007

You and the writers from CR should go to your yoga lessons in a real truck sometimes. The Silverado was highly rated by CR for its ride during the last 10 years.

Hurry up and buy a Ridgeline. If the execs at Honda don't deep-six the gen 2 Ridgeline pretty soon they'll be joining you at those yoga lessons with the guys from CR

@PapaJim -- why would Honda execs deep-six the Ridgeline when it is selling so well? Granted, they don't build many, but they sell quickly.

the Ridgeline ... is selling so well?


The Honda owns last place in monthly and YTD sales every year. You sound like you're hallucinating.

PapaJim, i guess you missed the part where I said they don't build many. You can't sell many when you don't build many. Again, compare time on lot for Ridgeline vs other trucks. That will tell you a whole lot more than total number sold. I know, a lot of folks are afraid to look at that number, kinda like the actual payload number on their doorpost.

@papajim you need to do your research The Car Connection did a comparison of the Full-Size GM truck to Ridgeline it said good ride for GM. But with Ridgeline it said excellent road manners.
And other publications rate Ridgeline ride and handling with on par high matching and beating crossovers Suvs and some sedans.

Motorweek TV has done several comparison of Full Sized Truck based Suvs that are closely based on their pickup truck GM wasn't the top for ride Ford Expedition came out on top.
over the Tahoe but I dont' think the big vehicles are going to rival a crossover anytime in riding handling they just like the Full Sized pickup truck relatives are made for grunt workhorse duty.

PapaJim, i guess you missed the part where I said they don't build many. You can't sell many when you don't build many...Posted by: Longboat | Apr 28, 2018

Completely understand. Reminds me of the Honda CrossTour, the Honda Element, the S2000, the Passport, the Prelude, (do you want me to keep going?).

GM wasn't the top for ride Ford Expedition came out on top.
Posted by: RIDGELINE OWNER 2007 | Apr 29, 2018

GM outsells Ford 2:1 in this bracket.

Why do you set yourself up to fail? 2005 was the last year that Ford sold more than 100k Expeditions.

Don't be afraid to look up the facts BEFORE you write something that you can't erase.

@papajim I am not talking about sales talking about best riding handling vehicles. Motorweek TV just said new Ram 1500 was best riding Full Sized pickup but said waiting for new GM.
So I am wondering again why you want to kill off all theses Uni-body trucks like Ridgeline Santa Cruz & VW.
How do you use your Full Sized truck are you a tradesman type that use it for work? Hauling lumber bricks ect. Are you the type of person that Tows a big boat or camper trailer?
Many Full Sized pickup buyers that make up your sales numbers don't do any of that these days.


the Big Three pay analysts to parse the numbers. We look at who sells the most trucks/SUVs

Ford let the Expedition wither on the vine for more than 10 years and the product was showing it---it was the last vehicle in the lineup to use the dismal 5.4 V8

At a time when other car-makers were making the most of their big station wagons, Ford was letting it limp along.

Find a list of the statistics for the years since 2000 and it's easy to see that the Expedition was once a mighty player in that space, and Dearborn just let it die. The new updated Expedition looks great but only comes with a base engine. We'll see what buyers think of that.

The problem is, the pickup market is so diverse. You can basically break it down into 3 markets, work trucks, family trucks, and lifestyle trucks. The work truck market is the most likely to compromise (by compromise I mean things like, auto vs manual or 3/4 vs 1 ton) because they NEED a truck, so they take what they can get. That's why I drive a short bed. I prefer an 8 foot bed, but I got a good deal on it. The family truck market could be further divided into daily driver and weekend warrior. Some want a family car with an open bed for the occasional bulky load, others want to pull campers cross country. Either way, this market will NOT compromise. They demand creature comforts. Finally, the lifestyle truck can be divided into street and trail trucks. Both groups are all about customization and image. The big 3 are able to cater to all these markets because they've had years to develop their product lines and learn what people want. To try and break into this market, you have to pick one segment to appeal to. Honda went with the daily driver crowd, and they get blasted for only filling this small, albeit lucrative niche.

Define: Lucrative

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